Getting the Most Out of My China Trip

On: May 9, 2008
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About Pieter-Paul Walraven
Besides enjoying my MA New Media and doing research on Web 2.0 developments in China at the UvA I am working 2 days a week as a project assistant at KREM (www.KREM.nl). KREM is a web 2.0 oriented company which specializes in so called corporate social networks. Movies: Koyaanisqatsi, O Brother where art thou?, Amores Perros. When not studying: Golf!, running, traveling, China, Web 2.0. Books: Life of Pi, War and Peace, The World is Flat. Furthermore I am currently doing research on Web 2.0 in China and Chinese Web companies expanding overseas. For this MA thesis research I will travel to China on the 14th of April to interview the most prominent Chinese Web companies that have the ambition to expand internationally.

Website
http://pietchinathesis.wordpress.com/    

Stockmarket: live in tha HutongIt has been a while since I wrote my first post on international expansion of Chinese Internet companies and my experiences here in China. I wrote the post during a train ride from Guangzhou to Shanghai. A lot has happened after that. I have met so many interesting people, visited companies, and when there was time I also tried to be tourist. In this post I will tell something about the people and companies I visited in Shanghai. Furthermore I will make an effort to summarize what I have been up to in Beijing so far!

Shanghai

The first company that I visited in Shanghai was JL McGregor & Company, an Urban ShanghaiAmerican research company that keeps track of most companies that I am doing research on. Lucky as I am I was able to make use of their extensive database; two days in their office gathering reports and information! Ofcourse my stay in Shanghai could not be complete without visiting two of the most prominent Chinese online gaming companies; Giant Interactive (GI) and Shanda.

But this is not all, the list goes on: I dropped by the Dutch casual gaming company Spill Group Asia where I spoke with Thijs Bosma. Also at Spill Group I met Marc van der Chijs with whom I talked about one of the biggest Chinese video sharing sites Tudou. Furthermore I visited the leading Chinese social networking site 51.com just 1 day before they moved to a bigger building in Zhangjiang sofware park. Finally, last but certainly not least, I met Gang Lu, to who I am very gratefull for sharing his insights with me.

As I mentioned in my previous post on Tencent the International expansion of Chinese Internet companies will most likely start in the gaming market. The outcomes of my meetings in Shanghai confirmed this finding; both Shanda and GI, market leaders of the so called ‘Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games’ market, take te lead in succesfully expanding their operations abroad. Read more about it at MObinoDE where I am guestblogging.

Beijing: the city where it’s at

Mao and his supportersI am in Beijing for nearly a week now but it feels like I have been here for months; I encountered so many interesting persons and companies! Since most of the Chinese web companies are based here I really tried to fill up my schedule as much as I can to gather as much information and learn as much as possible during my stay here. This is a simplified list of the most interesting people and everything that I have encountered so far (companies, events, etc)!

Monday:

– Benjamin Joffe – Managing Director – Plus8star (Japan, South Korea and China: research, incubator, & consultancy)
– Porter Erisman – VP Corporate Affairs – Alibaba (The worlds leading B2B e-commerce company)

Tuesday:

– Patrick Zha – Chairman & CEO – NOVOking (Virtual World)
– Kaiser Kuo – Group Director, Digital Strategy – Ogilvy & Mather China (Advertising) Kaiser has introduced me to a million people, really nice guy, lucky that I met him!
– William Bean – Partner – Softbank, China & India Holdings (VC, investor in an interesting global Chinese web company italki)

Wednesday:

– Paul Denlinger – Blogger, Consultant – ChinaVortex (interesting blog with a more macro-economic pov)
– Lonne Hodge – Entrepeneur – Culturefish (Baidu partner, SEO, Marketing etc) I met Lonnie before in Guangzhou.

Thursday:

Attended a WPP meeting through Kaiser Kuo. WPP is one of the worlds leading communications group. The meeting was about the future of video sharing and p2p video streaming in China. Market leaders in this market such as PPLive, HDT, and Youku all gave presentations about their views on the future of rich online media, their businessmodel, strategy, and the future of online advertising in China. After the presentations and mouthwatering lunch I joined Youku’s CEO Viktor Koo and WPP Strategy Director Scott Spirit on their way to the airport for an interview. We had an interesting discussion on why Baidu went overseas, what will be the biggest SN in China and when+why, and the battle of the video sharing websites; who will win when and why?!

After this I had to rush back to attend a monthly web entrepeneur gathering near the Silicon Valley of Beijing (where, among others, Oracle, Google, and Microsoft are located). It was organised, by Bjorn Lee, who I had already set up a meeting with coming monday. Bjorn currently works at Hipihi, another Chinese virtual world. Interesting to speak to some of the younger entrepeneurs on their views on the future of the Chinese Internet market.

Friday (today):

Sinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!Today I spoke with Zhang Tao, International Sales Manager at Baidu (China’s no.1 Search engine) in the morning, after an interesting interview we had lunch together and discussed the educational problems China is facing. In the afternoon I had a meeting with Cathy Peng, Investor Relations Manager, Sina (China’s biggest portal). Sina is located in the same building as Baidu, which was convenient, especially in Beijing where the average speed of a car is around 15 km per hour because of a constant traffic jam!

I just returned to my hotel in a Hutong close to Tiananmen sq, and I’m glad that it is weekend. After meeting so many people and hearing so much new stuff it is now time to process, and maybe squeeze in a visit to the Great Wall!

Saturday:

I will meet with Ned Rossiter who can hopefully learn me more about the Beijing Zhongguancun Software park and about creative industries in general, it will be very helpfull for my thesis to hear his views on the current situation! I think I will also visit some random Internet cafes and find out what the kids are doing in there.

Next week I have planned several more meetings (Perfect World, Tangos Chan, Jeremy Goldkorn, Douban, etc) which I will blog about later, I just hope I have enough time for my meetings before I head back home on the 15th! Now its time for a cold Tsingtao!

5 Responses to “Getting the Most Out of My China Trip”
  • May 10, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Hi Pieter,
    Thanks for the mention about italki. There’s a lot of great things going on at italki, including our recent release of Knowledge – wiki language learning textbooks. I’d be happy to introduce more aspects of italki to you next time you’re in Shanghai.
    Also, I know another online game company in Beijing you might be interested in or a few more internet startups in Shanghai. Feel free to drop me a line.
    Toffler, italki.com

  • May 10, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Wow Pieter, very cool that you were able to visit all those companies and talk to so many influential people! I think many people are looking forward to your final thesis!

  • May 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    dun throw your notes away, i think u can extract more value from them beyond this thesis.. rem our chat about silicon dragon?

  • May 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    @ Thijs: I am also looking forward to my final thesis!

    @ Bjorn: ofcourse I remember our chat about Silicon Dragon, just wait and see… :)

  • May 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    […] –  My experiences in Shenzhen; visiting Tencent and Shenzhen High-Tech Industrial Park (SHIP). –  Who I have met and what I have been doing in Shanghai. […]

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